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Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More

Category: Science and Yoga

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Susan
USA

Question

How can I have God all the time?

Answer

Many of the techniques we practice on the spiritual path are so simple that we can all too easily fail to see how powerful they are.

We imagine that if something is complex and hard to understand, it must be powerful. If there are lots of things to remember, and if you have to get the syllables just right, then it must be important and powerful. Yet the techniques of this path are simple and powerful.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Practicing the presence of God is simple, for example, yet it’s a challenge.

You find that the more you practice, the more the boundaries of your ego dissolve, and the more you discover that you are part of a greater reality. And then your intuition develops, so that you find that you’re aware of that higher reality in everything.

Several years ago, Swami Kriyananda challenged us to keep our minds on God for just five minutes a day.

I was very embarrassed, because he was asking us to think of God without letting our minds wander: “I’m hungry,” “I want to get that blue dress,” “Oh, there’s a spot on my pants,” “What am I going to do tomorrow?”

We all know how it goes. You’re sitting there trying to meditate, repeating the mantra, and all of a sudden you aren’t. And you’re not sure exactly when you stopped doing the mantra.

That’s why we say we “practice,” because we have to practice bringing our minds back over and over whenever they wander away.

Yogananda said that if you take care of the minutes, the incarnations will take care of themselves. The problem is, we think we have to look past the minutes and take care of many important things. But if your consciousness is uplifted and centered here and now, you find that your life flows beautifully.

One of the reasons we chant is that singing the words is a wonderful way to keep our hearts engaged and our mind focused. When you repeat the words with feeling, the mind wants to practice the presence, because it sees how enjoyable it is.

When Brother Bhaktananda was a young disciple, he spent eight years constantly repeating a simple phrase: “I love you, Guru.” One day Yogananda saw him and said, “I love you, too.”

Swamiji’s book Affirmations for Self Healing gives us many wonderful phrases we can repeat to keep our minds in the present, on God.

I possess the creative power of spirit, the divine.

The infinite intelligence will guide me and solve every problem.

The sunshine of divine prosperity has just burst through my dark clouds of limitation.

I go forth in perfect faith in the power of omnipresent good to bring me what I need, at the time I need it.

When life’s laundry list tries to fill up your mind, you can start saying your affirmation and everything changes.

Frank Laubach was a protestant missionary in the Philippines. Rev. Laubach began to suspect there might be something more to religion than anyone had told him. He began to try to be constantly in the company of Jesus.

In his book Letters of a Modern Mystic, Laubach describes all the things he did to be aware of the presence of Jesus, and how difficult this simple idea was to practice – and how magnificently it turned out for him.

There’s a book called The Way of a Pilgrim by a Russian peasant who became a saint by practicing the presence of God. He had read in the Bible that we are supposed to “pray unceasingly.” And in his simple religious fervor, he set out to discover what it meant. He took as his mantra the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

At first he repeated it a little each day, then more and more, until he was saying it unceasingly. And then he began to discover that his breath, his heartbeat, and everything in the universe was the same. His prayer became all of creation, and he became nothing but that prayer.

These stories open startling possibilities. You realize that if we pick up these simple tools, how much can happen.

We think we have to do something big and important. We have to move somewhere and change our job so we can make more money and go on more retreats. But none of those things have to happen. You can find God if you step out the door of your mundane habits and start saying your chosen prayer.

It’s a thrilling process. Once you recognize the power of it, then you can have the presence of God anywhere. If you’re in a prison cell you can be with God. If you’re ill and can’t sit to meditate, you can do your practice and have God. If everybody in your family is screaming and won’t give you a moment’s rest, you can do it. Silently practicing the presence of God is the devotee’s secret weapon in the battlefield of life.

In Joy,

asha

Nina
India

Question

Physiognomy, the science of face reading says that a person’s character, and the kind of emotions he or she has harbored can be known by studying the person’s eyes, forehead, shape of nose, texture of hair and other facial features. What was Yoganandji’s take on it? Has he said anything about it?

Nayaswami Savitri

Nayaswami Savitri

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Nina,

I can find no reference to "Physiognomy" in Yogananda’s teachings.

However, I have heard Swami Kriyananda refer to the Masters or saints being able to read something of person’s character by looking at his or her face. This is especially true of one’s eyes, which Yogananda refers to as the "windows of the soul."

Personally, I can almost always "see" from looking into a person’s eyes or face whether he or she meditates regularly or not. There is a certain energetic light there which is definitely observable.

In any case, it is my understanding that valid observations like these are more about vibrations, than about actual facial shapes or the physiological aspects, such as you have mentioned, and would be felt more by intuition than by seeing actual physical manifestations.

Sana
India

Question

Hi,

I have heard that one can walk on water with the power of thoughts. Is it true? I have no intentions to try this stunt but just curious. Can indeed science be defied with the power of thoughts? Can one defy gravity with powerful thoughts? I have heard this many times but thought of confirming with you all since you are an authentic spiritual organization and would be able to give the accurate answer in an unbiased way.

Nayaswami Savitri

Nayaswami Savitri

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Sana,

You ask if science can be defied by the power of thought, enabling one to do such things as walking on water, levitating, or other such so-called miracles.

The answer is Yes, but these things are not done by the power of thought — rather by the power of Divine Energy, through which the material world can be manipulated in amazing ways. This is easily done by the Avatars, the Great Ones. And it is very important to remember that powers like these will only be used when they are guided by God to do so.

These powers are within our grasp also, when we are willing to progress spiritually.

The best clear explanation of this subject that I know of is given in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, in the chapter called "The Law of Miracles." I think you would enjoy reading or re- reading it carefully.

CR
Germany

Question

Dear Brother/Sister,

*) Is there a top-down kundalini? (which could start from the crown and gets down the body)

*) Can there be a kundalini awakening without the person knowing it?

*) I could feel energy activation continuously on my forehead - Any suggestions on how to handle it?

*) During meditation I had a warmth on the back of my head and could see a small thing (Pineal gland?) which was on my back of my head- then I had a huge brain massage for quite some - Any thing to take care here?

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Ananda Maine

Answer

Dear Friend,


I will answer your questions according to my understanding and experience of the inner pathway to liberation. Swami Kriyananda has given excellent descriptions of the inner spinal centers and energy pathways in Lessons 12 and 13 of the Raja Yoga Course of Self Realization and I highly recommend you read these.

To answer your first question - no there is not a top down kundalini power. There is the energy of the descending pingala current in the spine upon exhalation.

I suspect there can be a kundalini awakening without a person knowing it depending on whether or not one has awareness of the inner currents in the astral spine.

Energy activation in the forehead is probably a sensation of energy in the positive pole of the 6th chakra, spiritual eye or Christ center. You would feel this center at the point between the eyebrows. It is helpful to focus your attention on the spiritual eye as often as possible to uplift your consciousness especially in meditation and throughout your day as well.

Regarding your last question, I suggest you tune in to whether or not the experience you had was spiritually awakening, sidetracking or simply energy in the head. By spiritually awakening, you would have felt peaceful, joyful and uplifted. Sidetracking would have been a diversion of attention towards phenomena rather than significant spiritual awareness. Energy in the head can be warm or cool and may or may not have much to do with meditation. It can result simply from concentration. During meditation, keep your awareness at the point between the eyebrows and penetrate any light you see there with calm and relaxed attention.

Again for a more complete description of the kundalini energy and the ida and pingala currents in the spine I refer you to Steps 12 and 13 in the Raja Yoga Course book.

Joy to you!

Are Auras Real?
November 30, 2012

Paige
US

Question

Are auras real? Do we all have them? Can you learn to see them and utilize them? If so, how?

Nayaswami Savitri

Nayaswami Savitri

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Paige,

Yes, auras are very real! Your aura is an electromagnetic field of energy all around your body. It radiates subtle light outward from a central core of energy within us - this is called the astral spine/chakra system. And there are machines now which will easily photograph and measure one's aura.

Yes, we all have them, as do all living things and to some extent, even non-living things like special places or objects of devotion.

And yes, some people can see them without effort, but it is possible to learn techniques to increase your ability to perceive them. Still it would be important to ask yourself this question first: "Why do I want to learn to see auras?" If you are guided inwardly to develop your ability to see auras in order to help people, perhaps in some sort of healing setting, then that might be a worthy goal. But you have to be very careful about getting your ego involved - thinking things like: "Wow, how amazing that I can see auras and most people can't. Aren't I great?!" An ego trap!

As we advance spiritually, this "talent" along with many others will start to develop within us very naturally. It is probably best to let these things come as they will and not to force them too much. Better to focus on prayer, meditation, and developing positive attitudes in daily life.

This is a very large subject and much has been written on it. I will send you, by private e-mail, some of the handouts I have put together for classes I have given about auras. Perhaps they will be of further help to you in understanding this fascinating subject.

Please Explain God
September 6, 2012

A
Canada

Question

I wonder if god is an evolutionary product of the human brain? Nature favours only the fittest. Newborn animals are killed by predators..why? Even us, to make the human body survive we need many "Non-human" parts such as the bacteria that live in our guts. I now find it hard that god created all this...decay, sickness, old age etc..it really flies in the face of common sense that an all knowing being created all this as opposed to evolution by natural selection! How do u explain this?

thanks

A

Nayaswami Pranaba

Nayaswami Pranaba

Ananda Village

Answer

Good question!

A challenge that many people face with the concept of "god" is that it is expressed only in terms of an anthropomorphic understanding; that God is viewed as being limited to an expanded version of who we are, with human attributes.

But God is really the cosmic infinite that has come into manifestation in creation. God is not some vengeful person with wrathful judgment, waiting to punish those who sin. It's not that God has thrust upon us such things as decay, sickness, old age, etc. From the yoga perspective these are the expressions of duality.

A simplified understanding of this is that God, as pure omnipresence (or absolute oneness), set in motion consciousness and energy to move into creation, which is inherently dual in its nature. The first wave of this creative movement is the causal realm, where consciousness and thought predominate. The next wave moves further into creation and away from its source and into the astral realm, where energy predominates. Finally, the next phase outward from its source is the physical realm, where matter predominates.

What this means is that all things come from that infinite oneness and simply reflects whatever realm of duality it is part of. Yoga says that we, in our true nature, are a soul encased in these three "bodies" of thought, energy, and matter.

The whole focus of anything in creation is unfolding to the true Self, which is really only an individualized spark of the Divine. Another way of stating this is that we are finding our way back to our source.

Things like decay, sickness, and old age are really neither good nor bad. They are just the mechanics of creation. They do, however, act as incentives for us not to be satisfied with this world of duality, but rather encourage us to seek the true fulfillment of life: that of Satchidananda - ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss.

There's a fascinating book, How God Changes Your Brain, which you might find both interesting and helpful. Here is an article from the Clarity Online magazine that is an interview with Peter Van Houten, MD, exploring the message of the book.

What the book conveys is that "God" is an actual experience that takes place through techniques such as meditation; it isn't just a matter of belief or self-hypnosis. I think you'll enjoy reading this book.

Another book you might like to read is God is For Everyone, which you can read online for free here.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

In divine friendship,

Nayaswami Pranaba

santanu mukherjee
kolkata, India

Question

Sir,

With due respect I submit the following for clarification.

How Atma/Soul can be defined through scientific method. If any development for specific valuation of one's soul is established. I would further request about views of Swami Yogananda Paramhansa in this context keeping in mind that Science and Religion are closely related. It is often discussed that there is no existence of Atma in the eye of Science.

Pranam & Profound Regards.

Santanu Mukherjee

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Friend,

It is stated in the scriptures of Sankhya (I forget now which one) that "God cannot be proved." The existence of the soul can be inferred but only by intuition can we truly know the soul. For the soul is immortal, wihtout substance, it cannot be found in a test tube, no microscope, or complex formula will reveal its existence.

The only "tool" that can perceive the soul which is pure consciousness is consciousness itself. And to do so all the fluctuations of physical, mental and emotional "motions" must be stilled.

However, the soul can, therefore, be proved through the scientific techniques of raja yoga by which the natural turbulence of body and mind can be stilled that we might "know that I AM God."

It is not the province of the material sciences to seek and find the existence of the Soul, unless it be by inference and speculation. The scientific method necessarily proceeds from observation of repetitive motions (experiments) of time, space, energy, etc. and the soul is, by its own nature, Consciousness itself. Only consciousness can become "Self-aware." It needs no machines, nor mathematics.

Science and Soul are, however, like twin stallions pulling the chariot of the body and of human life. They need not be at war, if each respects the domain of the other and recognizes its own inherent limitations. Yes, a Vedantin would say the soul has no boundaries but in all fairness the soul isn't intrinsically interested in the time, space, and matter but in Self-realization. That, in turn, is not a rejection of time and space but is simply a different direction of interest.

As partners, one who seeks Self-realization of the Soul (Atman) can function more creatively and intuitively in the material realms. Indeed great scientists such as Einstein held in awe the power and mystery of the universe as a cosmic principle to which they attuned their individual mind to the OverSoul. Together, there are no limits to perfection.

Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras enumerates the powers that arise as the the ego retraces its steps towards re-uniting with the Soul. Those powers include dominion over all matter. Spirit and Nature dancing together, victory to Spirit and victory to Nature, Radhe, Radhe, Radhe Govinda Jai!

Blessings,

Nayaswami Hriman

k
India

Question

I recently watched on Discovery about existence of parallel universe on other side of blackhole. Does astral worlds and causal worlds lie behind black hole? Even light which is the base of all creations as depicted in Autobiography of a Yogi cannot escape black hole. Why? What power lies behind it? Also there is no time in blackhole that is timelessness exist there. Does light depicts Shakti (God in motion) and blackhole represents static motionless aspect of God. Please clarify.

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Ananda Village

Answer

k,

You've asked many questions about realms of knowledge that I find fascinating.

Today, many programs like those on the Discovery Channel speculate on the idea of parallel universes created when black holes form - or as a result of many other possible causes, including other universes being created by people making choices: in one universe they made one choice, in the other another choice was made.

It is very expansive thinking - but it is definitely speculative. Physicists cannot measure anything that falls into a black hole, nor is there any way, currently, to detect the presense of alternate universes.

These speculative theories arise from known problems with current physical theory. One of these problems - at least it's a problem for physicists - is that according to quantum theory matter exists in an uncertain state until it is observed. Once it is observed by an Intelligent Observer, it then takes form.

As you might imagine, in today's scientific world, the idea that matter is subject to (as a scientist might put it) anyone's random observations - even a a two-year old - doesn't sit well. But the "observer effect" is irrefutable.

Scientists who are looking for a physical answer to the observer effect speculate that the universe ramifies into zillions of universes resulting from the billions of Intelligent Observers, well, observing.

Personally, I think these theories are wrong, and that the Ultimate Observer, God, is constantly maintaining our one physical universe. Because we, too, are part of God's infinite consciousness, we share the ability to affect matter, and thus our ability to do so can be seen in science's quantum experiments. But it is God's One Consciousness that keeps us from creating chaos.

The other main reason that scientists speculate on parallel universes is that our universe appears to depend on some unseen forces - such as dark energy, or in string theory, "branes" - unseen, unmeasurable, but incredibly potent structures of energy that give rise to matter. So if "branes" can give rise to one universe, why not many others as well?

Persoanlly I think these speculations indicate that science is beginning to deduce the presence of the astral and causal realms, which, we are told by spiritual masters, give rise to and sustain the physical world.

Warm regards,
Puru (Joseph) Selbie

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